Happy 50th Birthday to a Brother Who Died Long Ago

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August 7, 2012

Today my brother Kevin would have turned 50. Killed in a car accident at age 23, Kevin has been dead longer than he lived.

In 23 years, he did a lot of living. Since he would have been 50, here are 50 things I remember about my brother. They are a random set of remembrances, most from me, some passed along over the years from relatives and friends. Together, they may give others a sense of the young man, teenager, and boy he was.

Scheduling Remembrance: Sometimes Life Gets in Way

I grew up ignorant of the structure my religion offers mourners. Singing in temple choirs and attending Shabbat services gave me my first lessons about Jewish remembrance. I noticed the people who stood to hear the names of those they had lost – spouses, mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters. Today, I am no longer so ignorant of my faith’s rituals. But, I confess, it’s not always easy to stop life and remember. Continue reading

Dressing Torah Brings Me Closer to Faith on Shavuot

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June 8, 2011

“Slowly. You don’t have to rush it,” the rabbi said. I was trying to quickly tie a bow on the belt wrapped around the Torah.

My rabbi, Howard Jaffe of Temple Isaiah in Lexington, Mass., held his finger in the center of the string to assist. Bow-tying is a weakness of mine. I tie shoelaces by forming two bunny ear loops. I tied the strings and reminded myself to breathe. I was not on stage. I was in the chapel of my temple during the morning Shavuot service. … Continue reading

Cemeteries bloom in the spring, but who visits?

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Cemeteries are designed to be beautiful, peaceful places. Yet, how many of us return to visit a loved one’s grave? Some people are cemetery visitors, and some are not, a rabbi told me recently.

Today, as I began some revisions on my memoir about grief and faith, I thought a lot about Rose Hill Cemetery in Chicago where my brother is buried. It is a strikingly beautiful place with ponds and century-old trees. Geese and ducks flock there. I have been there a handful of times since 1986, the year my brother … Continue reading